Thursday 23rd February 2023

LGBTQ+ History Month | A conversation with Hollie Fullerton

In the spirit of LGBTQ+ history month, Scottish Student Sport are giving voice to our amazing LGBT+ athletes. We had the honour of speaking to Hollie Fullerton, who was Glasgow University Sport Associations’ first non-binary club captain and now the current Scottish Student Sport Trampoline Chair.

In the spirit of LGBTQ+ history month, Scottish Student Sport are giving voice to our amazing LGBT+ athletes. We had the honour of speaking to Hollie Fullerton, who was Glasgow University Sport Associations’ first non-binary club captain and now the current Scottish Student Sport Trampoline Chair. Hollie shared their thoughts on why they think everyone should get involved in sport and how sports clubs can continue to work on being inclusive for all. Find out everything they had to say below:


How did you get into trampolining?

I went to recreational trampolining my whole childhood as my mum was a trampoline coach, but I wasn’t that interested in doing it competitively. I stopped around puberty age and then I got back into it at university. It was a bit of a hop skip and a “bounce” but it all started with recreational and that’s why I think I’m still able to enjoy it now as I didn’t have a competitive upbringing with the sport.


How has your first year as trampoline chair been?

We’ve just one league event left and then I’m done my first year. It’s been a really good year; we just had the Scottish Student Trampoline Open (SSTO) which was the first time it’s been back since 2020.


 Students from all over Britain attended the SSTO, did the event go well and can you explain how inclusivity was applied?

Everything went really well. It’s our first year that we introduced a disability category so that’s been our big step. We started introducing it in our first league back in October and we continued it for the SSTO for our first open disability category. We’re so thrilled that people signed up for it and wanted to get involved. It’s really such a great and accessible sport.


Could you explain what being non-binary means to you?

I came out as non-binary a few years ago. I don’t identify with male or female I’m just me. Gender is a big spectrum and there’s lots of different places that people can find themselves on that, but as a non-binary person, I don’t feel a link to gender, I use gender-neutral language, my pronouns are they/them.


What did it mean to you to be Glasgow University Sports Association’s (GUSA) first non-binary club captain?

My coming out tied into all as a sort of weird things happening. I was social secretary my first year, then second year I was club secretary. I was an ally so thought I’d put my pronouns in my email, and it just looked wrong. It clicked in my head that I would rather not be called she/her and that I preferred general neutral pronouns. I had known I was queer for a long time and was out openly, I just never realized that I had these feelings about gender as well. My next year going into it as captain one of our older members of the committee said I think you’re our first openly nonbinary captain. We got in touch with Glasgow University Sports Association (GUSA) and they confirmed I was.


Were you worried about any of your trampoline teammates’ response to you coming out?

We have our executive committee, so it was myself, our captain and treasurer and we’re really close. They were some of the first people I came out to, and they were so great and kind about it. That’s the nice thing about sport, these institutions are such a safe space. We’ve all done our diversity training and we have to be supportive.


Why would you encourage other LGBTQ+ members and students as a whole to get involved in student sport?

I know an unfortunate statistic is that people who identify as queer struggle with mental health. But we also know sport improves your mental health as well as your physical fitness. You’re getting to socialise every week on a regular basis so I think it’s great for anyone, but I think since queer people might be more likely to struggle, it’s even more important they get involved. The socialisation you get from a sports team is absolutely invaluable.


Do you have any advice for someone who may be nervous about joining a student sports club?

I think if someone is nervous to join, knowing there are measures in place to ensure your well-being is such a comfort. Also, a lot of friendships come from being on a team as it kind of forces you to socialise. It gives you something to talk about.


I’m aware some Universities have gendered clubs, for example a men’s hockey team and a female hockey team. Do you have any thoughts about the gendering of student sport clubs when it’s being played at a recreational level?

I think when its recreational it’s important to ask does it really have to be gendered, and does it really make a difference. I appreciate at a certain level bodies can make an impact on sport. But at recreational level, which is what we’re performing at university and college generally, then why not make it for everyone. I do get somewhere like the University of Glasgow the hockey teams are huge so they have to be split in some way, but I think were there can be mixed recreational teams there absolutely should be especially in non-contact sports.



 What steps would you like to see being taken next to ensure student sport clubs continue to work on being inclusive for all?

I think measuring up whether being inclusive outweighs a marginal difference in competitive level. For example, this year at trampoline we had trans people competing and I think especially at lower level it didn’t make any difference. We allowed people to compete in whatever category they felt most comfortable in. At trampoline our levels are split into level of difficulty and it’s the same expectation for everyone. If sport clubs have to be split then why not split it based on difficulty level instead if it means more people can get involved. I know it’s very sport specific I just want more people to be included.



Is there anything else Scottish Student Sport could do to promote inclusivity?

This year trampolining focused on disability, but we also have to make sure we’re inclusive in other areas. For example, British gymnastics recently changed their rules, so we were able to implement gender neutral kit and allowing people to wear religious headwear in competition. So, for the first time we had people competing in hijabs and it’s so nice to have all these different areas fully included. It’s important to question why we have the rules we have and looking at long-standing practices that might be discriminatory. Being open minded and flexible is the main thing.


If you have any questions or thoughts, why not get in touch with our Inclusion & Culture Coordinator:

Phone: +44 (0) 7572 682978